Monthly Archives: July 2010

Aids Conference 2010,turns out to be a dissapointment

activists on a protest march during the AIDS Congerence, Vienna

The Global AIDS Conference is held every two years to highlight the need and success of the HIV prevention programmes and hence estimate the funds required to sustain them.At the 18th International AIDS Chonference in Vienna, there were 248 sessions and 6,238 abstracts presented.However the recently concluded Vienna Aids Conference has been declared as a dissapointment by the global experts.I provide you with a brief synopsis on those issues which has been grossly overlooked in this conference.

Severe Cuts in funding : Dr. Kamal Yanni, a senior HIVpolicy advisor quotes  “The host country, Austria, set the wrong tone. It pledged $1 million into the Global Fund at its inception (2002) and have not put any money and have now said they are not planning to put any money” Most of the donors refused to pledge any actual figure during the conference.  It is unlikely that the estimated 20 million euro budget will be recovered,thus reducing the possibility of introducing newer prevention programmes or expansion of currently running ones.This is quite ridiculous as Aid for poor countries (mostly african and asian nations) represents a small fraction of the donor budget so it will make little saving even if they are curtailed.

The CONDOM issue is undermined:

The cheapest and most effective of all prevention methods is the condom.This conference saw the investments in condoms and safer-sex campaigns fall off Yet, as th experts stressed on new measures come along – microbicides, antiretrovirals, circumcision, etc. According to the United Nations Population Fund, only 2.7 billion condoms were distributed last year against an estimation of 13 billion condoms that are needed.


HIV menance across China and India overlooked:

China and India account for 37 per cent of the world’s population. Yet news from the two countries was virtually nonexistent at the AIDS conference.In India aggressive prvention initiatives among the high-risk groups such as commercial sex workers and migrant workers curtailed the spread of the virus to a mere 2.4 million against an estimation of 100 million a decade ago. China has little HIV testing and a lot of stigma to HIV so the official numbers of 70,000 is ikely to be deceiving. Can the world afford to turn its eyes off these two sleeping giants??

Russia declares it will not change its policies:

Russia is home to one of the most explosive epidemics of HIV/AIDS in the world,  fuelled by IV drug use.  The country has among the most draconian drug policies in the world. Russian officials have balantly declared in AID Conference at Vienna, that they will not fund HIV/AIDS programs for drug users, prisoners and sex workers.

Potential of Male Circumcision not championed:

Studies conducted indicates that male circumcision can reduce a man’s risk of HIV infection by 60 per cent. In countries with the highest HIV/AIDS infections, circumcision rates are less than 10 per cent. The conference heard of vague, plans to raise that to 80 per cent. In practice  fewer than 150,000 operations have been done since the data were first published a few years back. Circumcision is a cause that has potential but does not have an obvious champion.

Acess to HIV medication for all:

The drugs needed to fight the infection needs to be cheaper,affordable and within the buying means of the affected community. Till a cure for HIV arrives a patient needs to be continuosly on medication to retard the process of developing AIDS. But with high price medicines can their treatment be sustained??Most of the time the expense of drugs restricts a continuation of the treatment and the virus starts  developing resistance against it.Estimates indicate that the drugs could be availed at a mere 10% of its present cost if they are procured from the developing world.But no concrete decision was taken on low cost manufacting and effective distribution of these medications.

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Filed under International - Policies and Declaration

Gays are filth say fanatical muslim clerics

the Muslim fundamentalist fanatic, Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick

Several London universities are hosting fundamentalist clerics, who advocates the killing of gay people and of Muslims who abandon their faith. They also endorse the beating of young Muslim girls who refuse to wear the hijab.

Too many student Islamic Societies are promoting hate-mongering clerics. These clerics are religious fascists.University authorities are complicit with the propagation of Islamist fundamentalism. They are allowing their campuses to be used for the promotion of extremist interpretations of Islam.

Many Vice-Chancellors are too weak and cowardly to take a stand. They fear being branded racist and Islamophobic. Instead of challenging these false slurs, they cave in to the hate-preaching fundamentalists.The encouragement of homophobia is one of pathways to Muslim radicalisation. It helps create a fanatical, anti-human rights mindset that can later develop into support for jihadism and terrorism.

The failure of many university authorities to take a stand against homophobic and anti-Semitic clerics is complicity with fundamentalism and radicalisation. It is collusion with the gateways to terrorism.The Islamic Society should not be promoting this fanatic. By giving him a platform it is complicit with homophobic and anti-Jewish hatred. It is colluding with intolerance.

In defiance of its own equal opportunities policy, King’s College London (KCL) and University of East London hosted the Muslim fundamentalist fanatic, Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick, earlier this year.He is anti-Semitic and homophobic. He denounces the “filth” of Jews (Yahood) and kaffirs.
See here (about 3.50 minutes into the video):

He says homosexuals should be executed.

Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick is on record as preaching:

  • AIDS is caused by the “filthy practices” of homosexuals
  • Homosexuals are dropping dead from AIDS and “they want to take us all down with them”
  • The Islamic position on homosexuality is “death”
  • Homosexuals are “sick” and “not natural”
  • “Muslims are going to have to take a stand [against homosexuals] and it’s not enough to call names” (this last point comes close to an implied threat of violence).

Quick addressed viewers about “Challenges Facing Muslims in the New Millennium”. Toward the conclusion of the lecture, Sheikh Quick expressed fanatical homophobic views on exterminating members of this community.

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Filed under International - Persecution of Homosexuals, Islam and Homosexuality, Media-International

Violence Against LBT People in Asia

Crossposted from ILGHRC website :  http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/resourcecenter/1099.html

Summary Report on Violence on
 the 
Basis 
of
 Sexual Orientation,
 Gender 
Identity
 
and
 Gender 
Expression
 
Against
 Non‐Heteronormative
 Women 
in 
Asia



Lesbians, bisexual women and transgender (LBT) people in Asia experience forced institutionalization in mental rehabilitation clinics, electro shock treatment as aversion therapy, sexual harassment in school and at work, threats of rape to make you straight, school expulsions, eviction by landlords, police kidnapping, family violence, and media stigmatization.

Lesbians face discrimination in the workplace because of their gender and their sexual orientation. Employment and job promotions are denied if women look too masculine. Male coworkers stalk and sexually harass lesbians who cannot report for fear of backlash and retaliation.

Transgender/gender variant people are marginalized in their jobs, and are targeted for blackmail, harassment, and sexual violence from the community or people in positions of authority like the police. Activists who defend the rights of LBT people experience threats to their safety, in some cases, harassment, attacks, even torture and abuse, with police participating in or doing nothing to stop these violations.

Frequently, LBT people in Asia face violence in the “private” sphere—by members of immediate and extended family, community and religious groups. This violence includes beatings, home confinement, ostracism, mental and psychological abuse, verbal abuse, forced marriage, corrective rape and in some cases killings to restore family honor.

The fear of family and community violence is often exacerbated by police complicity, when police officers join forces with family members to break up lesbian couples by arresting, detaining and intimidating them. In some cases, charges of kidnapping, trafficking or child abuse are brought against one of the partners. Police officers also charge lesbians under sodomy laws even if the law does not explicitly include lesbianism. Compounding the situation is the state’s lack of due diligence in applying existing laws that penalize domestic violence and sexual violence to LBT people who are victimized, thus denying them access to complaint mechanisms and opportunities for redress. Victims themslves don’t turn to these laws for protection because they lead double lives, and exposing the violence invites disapproval, rejection, discrimination and further violence. Such a vicious cycle allows violence to go unreported, unrecognized, and unchecked.

In some instances, media does report on suicide pacts or foiled same sex marriages but the coverage does not name what happened as abuse or suppression of rights. Instead, the media publicity reinforces the stigma against LBT people and makes them the object of ridicule and shame.

Many humanitarian organizations and women’s rights NGOs fail to understand the severity of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Government reports to treaty monitoring bodies as well as shadow/alternative reports by women’s right NGOs make no reference to violence against LBT groups and individuals for the most part because sexual rights for women, beyond reproductive rights, are rarely a priority for the women’s human rights movement, and the demand for women’s sexual autonomy is treated as incidental or an inferior right compared to the other rights. At the same time, when LBT activists lobby their governments or treaty bodies like CEDAW or their national human rights institutions, they often lack the data and documentation to support their claims of violence and discrimination, which contributes to the under-recognition of the problem.

In 2007 and 2008, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) met with grassroots and national LGBT groups in Asia to identify their key priorities and needs. From women’s groups, IGLHRC heard that homophobic and transphobic violence against women was their number one issue—even if some of the groups lacked the capacity and resources to make this issue their priority. To bring visibility to the issue, some groups conducted local studies in their service vicinity, but these were limited in scope. Regional level data gathering on violence against lesbians, bisexual women and transgender (LBT) people in Asia has not yet been carried out.

In response to what we heard, IGLHRC convened a Strategy Workshop in Quezon City, Philippines, May 27-30, 2009 to start a cross-country dialogue among activists from countries in Asia. Their reports confirm that homophobic and transphobic violence against non-heteronormative women in the region is under-reported, under-documented, and consequently eclipsed by other concerns in the region. This lack of data contributes significantly to lack of funding for services and lack of legislator attention.

Few government efforts to end violence against women involve LBT groups. LBT people are often denied protections from and remedies for violence that other people, including heterosexual women receive from anti-discrimination laws, domestic violence legislation and rape laws. In countries with minimal or poor state responses to violence against women, LBT people are even more marginalized because of the double or triple jeopardy that renders their suffering less visible. Benefits won by women’s rights movements often does not extend to LBT individuals, although many are part of these movements in their countries. Despite these inconsistencies, LBT activists are working to raise awareness about violence at state and non-state levels in many parts of Asia.

The following country summaries are based on the cross-country exchange convened by IGLHRC in May 2009. They are a prelude to the two-year in-depth qualitative and collaborative research and documentation project that will be undertaken in June 2010 by IGLHRC and LBT partners in Asia, and which will culminate in local advocacy initiatives to stem violence against women on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Some of these activities will be linked to existing national, regional and/or international public awareness and violence prevention campaigns such 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women, the UN Secretary General’s Campaign to End Violence Against Women, International Day Against Homophobia, International Women’s Day, Campaign to Just Say No to Violence and Impunity, etc.

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Filed under International - Persecution of Homosexuals, Media-International

Samakamita: The first Bengali book on homosexuality

This article was forwarded to me by the author Avijit Ray in early January this year. I apologise to the readers that my health conditions and a few contextual circumstances did not allow me enough liberty to blog for the last six months.


Comments by Tanvir Alim (BOB) : As a  science writer, and an engineer by profession, the writer attempted to provide scientific view and  accessible account  of homosexuality on several bases. In the first half of my book, he explored historical and biological issues. Here he tried to explain the scientific/biological bases for homosexuality, both from historical perspective and the extent to which modern science has gotten in this area of research.  In Part II, he addressed human rights issue and ongoing struggle of gay community in Bangladesh and beyond.

It is probably the first book in Bangla providing an overview of the complexity of issues that surround the culture and and study of homosexuality. Avijit Roy found himself honored to write  such a book in Bangla which he thinks will make significant contribution in gay rights issue in Bangladesh.

This is how the author described his work.


My new book on Homosexuality is going to be out Today. The Bangla name of the Book is Shomokamita – Ekti Boigganik O shomaj monostattik Onushondhan (Homosexuality – A scientific and socio-psychological investigation)- and it is being published by Shuddhashar (a book store in the 2nd floor of Aziz super market) within a few days. In this book, I have attempted to provide a scientific view and accessible account of homosexuality on several grounds. In the first half of my book, I explored historical and biological facts. There I tried to explain the scientific/biological bases for homosexuality, both from historical perspective and the extent to which modern science has been exploring its area of research. In the second part, I addressed human rights issues and ongoing struggle of gay community in Bangladesh and the rest of the world. It is probably the first book in Bangla providing a detailed overview of the complexity of issues that surrounds the culture and involving the study of homosexuality.
I have kept all the information about the book here:
The book will be found in upcoming Bangla Academy Book fair in February, 2010. There are some important discussion going on in some Bangla blogs as well, such as

I am not a gay. However, I am very sympathetic towards gay rights and similar humanitarian issues. You may ask – why did I took responsibility to write such a book? The answer is, over the time, I have seen sufficient incidents to distrust, despise, assault or even slaughter fellow people for having differences in religion, nationality, race or color. While the intellectuals of Bangladesh has been covering those issues, no body took onus to uphold the plight of “hidden minorities” i.e. gay and lesbian people of Bangladesh.  In this book, I hope to bridge the gap, providing an introduction to available knowledge on homosexuality from an eye of a sympathetic heterosexual person and a human rights activist. Hopefully together we will be able to remove the fear of homophobia, perhaps the last acceptable prejudice, from our society.

Please send the message to your friends who are interested to collect the book. The book will be found in shuddhashar (in Aziz super market), and will be available in upcoming Bangla academy  Book fair in February, 2010.
I convey my gratitude towards all including you who were directly/indirectly involved with this book!
Thanking you
Avijit

প্রকাশকঃ শুদ্ধস্বর (আহমেদুর রশীদ চৌধুরী)
৯১ আজিজ সুপার মার্কেট (৩য় তলা)
শাহবাগ, ঢাকা।
ফোন : ৯৬৬৬২৪৭, ০১৭১৬৫২৫৯৩৯


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Filed under Analysis of Homosexual Issues, Bangladesh LGBT events, Media-Indian Subcontinent, Tanvir Alim